A Fresh Chapter

The heat, the Christmas decorations, the tourists and the fact that my alarm clock is not waking me at 06h30 is a sign to me that we are close to the end of the year. Again. It seems only a couple of months ago I was saying good bye to 2012.

Drawing to a close on what has been for me one of my worst (read- most challenging) years in my adult life, I am pleased to see it come to an end and thrilled to be starting a new chapter in my life in the New Year. “This too shall pass” has been my mantra for a good part of the year and I am ready for a new one.

On many occasions I have wanted to lose my cool, to rant and rave like a lunatic. (I hope I am not fooling myself – perhaps it is still to come). It is a story filled with drama and betrayal. In fact it would make a great movie, because in this case, truth is stranger and more interesting than fiction. Our lives were turned upside down and as a consequence the pressure on my mental/emotional stability and marriage strained.

In the ‘Architecture of Relationship’ (a framework/model I developed to help us understand how to have and build healthy relationships) I talk about the external circumstances a.k.a heavy storms that hit heavily on our relationships and that threaten to destroy their integrity. We were hit by a tornado. And yet we are I am thrilled to say, albeit a bit shell shocked, still standing strong. I think I am still in crisis management and damage control mode. Like a hunted animal on high alert for the next sign of danger, unable to truly settle down and relax. Perhaps this time next year I will have had the space to reflect between me and this experience, enough to generate some additional insight for how we made it through this year – without turning to drugs and alcohol (or other tempting avoidance techniques to numb the anxiety) and destroying ourselves or one another.

Having never been much of a drinker (it just doesn’t taste good to me) but recognizing the compelling need to relieve myself in some way of the emotion, I needed something to turn to when I felt overwhelmed. A little extra comfort food helped in the short term but the extra weight not so much; so in true Shelley fashion I researched the best and most helpful habit I could rely on to let of a little steam.

I found myself a marvelous piece of technology that has made all the difference to my mental resilience and stress levels (by the HeartMath Institute). A product called eMwave which looks a little bit like earphones, plugs into my iphone and onto my ear whilst connecting with an app called Inner Balance. It monitors the ‘state’ of my heart and forces me to focus on a state of appreciation and gratitude.  If I manage to stay in the ‘green zone’ I earn points which, when acquired daily promises a re-patterning process in the brain and nervous system where coherence (being calm and composed) becomes the norm.  It kind of bridges the gap between science and meditation. Daily practice -15 minutes – of heart focused breathing has honestly kept me afloat emotionally and stopped me from killing someone despite the rage and anger I have felt this year. That and huge volumes of love and support from awesome friends and family, a very wise coach supervisor, the love and joy I receive from my coaching and writing, the delight I found in my new kitten and of course the unconditional, relentless energetic joy showered on me from my son.

What I know for sure is that my character has been pushed to the limits.  My spirituality and belief systems tested almost weekly. Retaining my dignity, centeredness and calm amongst the chaos that has been my life has provided me with a completely different perspective and depth to what it means to behave like an adult with integrity. Especially when my natural instinct is to lose it completely, throw my toys out the cot, have an emotional meltdown and punch someone’s teeth out. Living with the inner conflict of hate and trying to process it, to let it go, to move on, to reach a point of forgiveness are graduate lessons in life. I am still working on it and attempting to reconcile all the conflicting voices in my head but each day I feel closer to my old Self (take another deep breath).

The one thing in my favour is that I know how to be kind to myself. I don’t force myself to feel anything or to do anything that I ‘should’. I allow myself to feel what I feel. To grieve and cry when I need to. To scream at the sky when I want to. I don’t beat myself up for feeling anything, even detailed fantasies of hurtful, hateful revenge. I don’t weigh myself down with guilt over ‘should of, would of, could of’ conversations in my head. When I stop exercising and eat too much I show myself compassion. I listen to my yearnings, sleep more, work less, become unproductive and laze around even when there is so much to do. I recognize the slump I am in and know that ‘this too shall pass’. And when it does, my weight, my vitality, inspiration, creativity, productivity and motivation to become a proper functioning member of society will return. A new chapter will begin in due course and no one can squeeze a banana ripe.

So to all of you that have contributed this year to my joy and sanity, Thank You from the depths of my heart. To my clients whose strength and lives continue to inspire me, Thank You. To my amazing friends, Thank You. To my husband and hero – May 2014 be a prosperous, enjoyable year for us all.

Happy Holidays & Be careful with your Heart